UPDATE: The service for Budge is on Saturday May 28th, 2011, 11:00 a.m., at the Quail Lakes Baptist Church in Stockton, CA. The address is 1904 Quail Lakes Dr., Stockton, CA 95207. Off Interstate, Exit 5 March Lane, and go East. The first left past the freeway is Quail Lakes Drive. Turn Left. Follow Quail Lakes Drive approximately two miles. The church is on your right, just after Atherton Park.

It’s really difficult to say goodbye to a friend, not only in my heart, but also on this blog – so publicly. For the fifth time since February 11, 2011.

Robert Brown (1933 – 2011) of Cleavage Creek and Cellar Angels wineries.

Beginning with Patty Bogle’s passing away, I’ve lost five people whom I care about, and who have had a significant impact on my life in wine. As I was just writing to Ryan Opaz in an email, “It’s exhausting. I now think I know too many people.”

I actually held back memorializing Jess Jackson, because I felt like I was becoming the wine blogging angel of death.

  1. Patty Bogle ~ Feb. 11, 2011
  2. Millie Howie ~ March 31, 2011
  3. James E. Faber ~ April 16, 2001
  4. Jess Jackson ~ April 21, 2011 ~ I had to gather myself and I wrote

Now, my dear, sweet Budge Brown…Again, I thought, I just can’t write another goodbye.

But, that wouldn’t be fair to Budge. He’s supported me with PS I Love You for all of these years.

He’s had his own cause of fighting breast cancer:

And yet, he found time to also support my passion of having one of America’s heritage varieties become more broadly known and appreciated. This isn’t the time for me to consider anything but Budge and the service I bring to the wine industry… a publicist who has that inside edge and friendships born of it, of which Budge Brown is definitely one of the kindest, sweetest, and most generous and dedicated.

I wrote the story above about Budge because I had learned so much about him and greatly admired what he was doing. Did I care that his original label was of two mountains that intersected and suggested breasts? Heck no. Being a woman who has used my own breasts for the purpose for which they were intended… nursing my three lovely daughters… I thought that the label was ingenious. Then, when his labels segued into featuring gorgeous breast cancer survivor models, whom Budge had flown to Las Vegas for glamor shots, his labels no longer were suggesting… they were suggestive. Being a woman, I understood and applauded Budge. I even found myself defending his actions from a man who wrote to me and said:

“I personally have problems with this venture.”

To which I responded:

“You know… I’m a woman and I’m not offended. If these women are okay with it, who are we to take issue with what they’re doing? It’s their bodies. They’ve been through breast cancer, survived it, and are happy to help the cause. Ten percent of the proceeds from the sale of these wines goes directly to helping other cancer patients. I see everything right with this.”

As he states in a video, he was Robert Brown until he was two, and then he became “Budge.” He’s left his surviving family a legacy, which will continue in his absence, for women who can’t afford to pay for their own cancer treatments. Budge’s wife Arlene was in a normal protocol for breast cancer for about seven years, and Budge believes she should never have died… but she did. His passion for helping other women who can’t afford their own treatments was born from his personal experiences with Arlene as a result of breast cancer. After losing her, Budge tells people that he directed his anger to helping the fight against this terrible disease.

I have a natural granddaughter, because her biological grandmother died of breast cancer. I knew that when Chloe came into this world, she would deserve to know the purity of a grandmother’s love, as I had. (Mind you, my grandmother was actually my great aunt in biology, but became my natural grandmother. It wasn’t until I was 16 years old that I learned the real truth of our biology… which no longer mattered. She was my grandmother.)  Today at six, Chloe and I have that tight bond, too… It’s one that can’t be broken, because it’s so sweet and born of pure love.

While cancer and death take life away, they also give life to instances like mine; and to instances like Budge’s, when he talks about his Cleavage Creek labels:

“Cleavage Creek was created to provide cash flow that’s consistent and goes on beyond my years, I hope, for the purposes of helping women pay for treatments that work, they don’t have the money to pay for. What we show with our labels, that have breast cancer survivors with cleavage on them, is that women who have been through the whole protocol of breast cancer can be beautiful. You know, we’re not pushing sexuality, except that women can learn to be women and be happy and productive, and have a great life even after they’ve been through this experiencing. They can turn this terrible experience of, “I’m going to die,” into, “No, I’m not. I’m going live and I’m going to do better and I’m going to happy and go forward.”

From his grief, Budge rose as a phoenix… creating a fund and raising enough money in that fund to buy medicine for women through his passion for wine. He helped start a clinic and a grant program for women who want to go there but have no funds or insurance, and can’t pay for their medicines. With the loss of Budge’s wife, his mission became to help other women with breast cancer to prepare for their journey, having been on it himself with Arlene.

He stated that his goal was to help one woman survive. In the time left to him, he went way past that goal, having many more of us fall in love with him, leaving behind a legacy of caring and sharing all that he had to offer.

Save a place for me, Budge. I look forward to seeing you again! Today, I raise my glass in your honor.

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